In the state of Texas, there are 128,000 men paying child support for children who are not biologically their own. A new law is intended to reduce this number, redressing what many Texas men consider an abuse of the state’s child support system.
One Harris County man faces hunger and an inability to cover anything but his basic living expenses due to the old Texas system of forcing non-biological fathers to pay child support for the good of the child. His monthly payment is $1,400 a month, 40 percent of his paycheck after taxes. According to the man, after paying the support for two children — both proven not to be his by DNA paternity testing — he has barely enough to cover his remaining monthly bills.
In this case, as with others, the Texas Attorney General’s Office is aware of his non-biological status but makes him to pay anyway due to a court order that considers the payments to be in the best interests of the children. The new law was intended to address this issue by allowing men to petition for DNA testing to challenge paternity and remove the responsibility of paying for children who aren’t theirs.
There are several restrictions on the new law, however, and some say it is still not enough. Residents who missed the Sept. 1 deadline for the petition can still petition after the deadline but only if they’ve found out about their non-paternity within the past year. Those with older DNA tests or preexisting cases are still held responsible under the older law. Any unpaid child support also must be paid regardless of the outcome of the case.
The new law is limited, but it provides a way to end existing payments or stop them from beginning in the first place, particularly if the discovery of non-paternity is a recent one. Those who need help with their case may want to speak to an experienced attorney.
Sources: KVUE, “New law gives men chance to fight mistaken paternity,” Aug. 30, 2012